DALLAS — The American Airlines Center is officially located on Victory Avenue just outside the downtown area, but if you’re the Edmonton Oilers and are looking for a win after a season-worst four-game losing skid you can also find it at the intersection of Desperation and Determination.
While Oilers coach Dave Tippett went radical and had Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins all centring lines, as he said; “just to spread things around”, it was also more of the usual in their start to finish 2-1 victory.
The Oilers got a league-leading power-play goal from Draisaitl, their NHL best road penalty-kill stopped three by the Stars, McDavid had assists on both goals and goalie Mikko Koskinen, after a blemish against Carolina last week, was rock-solid, only beaten by Tyler Seguin’s bullet under the bar with 157 seconds left, running his record to 12-5-2. He made a great stop on Corey Perry with nine seconds remaining to save it.
The difference; one of those McDavid feeds came on their struggling five-on-five attack — a pass to Zack Kassian. Kassian has been the best even-strength player on the team, though, with all of his 12 goals and 23 points five-on-five. And after leading for all of 4:35 over the preceding four losses, they didn’t chase the game and after giving up 19 goals in those losses, they looked like the October Oilers. You remember them, opening with five straight wins, going 7-2-1 in the first 10, giving up just 24 goals.
“Our guys were really focused today, you could tell in the morning skate, real business-like approach … mostly the leaders in the room said we’d get the job done,” said Tippett. “Our goalie was really good but we checked well, the things we’d like our identity to be, a team effort rather than waiting for a couple of guys (Draisaitl and McDavid) to score.”
“Solid game from the first to the last minute, really a grinding game,” said Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom, who played half of it, 30:32, 10 minutes and 10 shifts in the third and also got yeoman service out of partner Adam Larsson who blocked six shots. “I’d rather win 2-1 than 5-4 and give up a lot of goals and a lot of shots … well, maybe if we had let in eight and we scored nine, I would still be happy, even if I was dash-6. All we wanted was a win to stop the bleeding.”
Got a little hairy at the end, a continuation of the third where Dallas had 18 shots and the Oilers eight.
“Yeah, little nervous, good for their fans (all the action) I guess. Thank god, we got away with it. You can almost say they deserved to score one but we kept it to one.”
Koskinen was like Gumby meets Pretzel in the final few minutes, bending, diving to make stops.
“Got a lot of pressure at the end … got my blocker on that one late. The goal was kind of a broken play, a pass through the back-door,” said Koskinen, who admitted it’s hard to protect a 2-0 lead for 46 minutes. “I thought we did a great job until they got the first one.”
And, they’re now second in the Pacific Division, tied with Arizona at 42 points but playing one more game. Vegas is third with 41 and Calgary fourth with 40 in the tightest division in the league.
Alex Chiasson made a McDavid like, no look back-pass past Dallas defender Esa Lindell right onto Draisaitl’s waiting tape to give Oilers a power-play goal in eight straight games. The last time Oilers had a PP streak that long was 1999 when Doug Weight and Ryan Smyth were leading the charge. The Draisaitl PP slapper ended the Stars’ run of 41 straight kills at home.
“I didn’t exactly know he was there but one thing about our power play since I’ve been on it the last year, it’s kind of chemistry, you understand where guys are. I never looked once but it was a feel for the play. He usually hangs around that area, perfect spot at the right time,” said Chiasson, of the set-up on the game-winner.
HOW THE WHEEL TURNS
Todd Nelson and Derek Laxdal find themselves on the same on the same Dallas coaching staff these days, but nine and-a-half years ago they both applied for the Oil Kings junior job.
Laxdal was hired by then junior GM Bob Green, but now the chief amateur scout of Oilers, and Nelson, who had been Atlanta Thrashers assistant coach, was in limbo in June, 2010. Until GM Steve Tambellini called.
“Went for an interview and got hired the next day. Best thing that ever happened to me going to Oklahoma City,” said Nelson, who then coached Oilers after Dallas Eakins was fired.
Laxdal left Oil Kings after their Memorial Cup, and coached Stars AHL farm team for six years until Dallas coach Jim Montgomery was fired a week ago.
“It was a whirlwind there for three or four days. When I got the call, it threw me off, but then you just go. Came up and went right into a pre-game skate and a game (vs New Jersey),” said Laxdal, who coached 12 of the current Stars in the minors, including John Klingberg, Esa Lindelll and Radek Faksa.
Maple Leafs' goalie Petr Mrazek exits with groin injury vs. Senators – The Athletic
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek exited after the second period of a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday with what the team called a groin injury. The team had no further update on his status after the game.
Mrazek went down awkwardly on the final shot of the period from Ottawa’s Victor Mete, then hobbled down the tunnel at the end of the period. Mrazek made 26 saves but allowed three first-period goals. Jack Campbell came on for the Leafs in goal to start the third period.
Mrazek, 29, was making his debut with the Leafs after signing a three-year deal in the offseason.
(Photo: Chris Tanouye / Getty Images)
Umpire's 'Blown' Check-Swing Call Ends Epic Dodgers-Giants Series And Stuns Fans – Yahoo
The Giants’ Wilmer Flores struck out on what many believed was a blown check-swing call by first base umpire Gabe Morales. The out preserved the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory in Game 5 on Thursday, allowing the team to advance to the National League Championship Series against Atlanta.
The chances of a Giants rally appeared dim at the time. The count was 0-2, there were two outs, a runner on first, and three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer was pitching. Not to mention that Flores had never gotten a hit off Scherzer before, the San Francisco Chronicle noted.
But the anticlimactic ending to the momentous playoff clash between the historic rivals angered fans. Reporters and Major Leaguers, including the New York Mets’ Kevin Pillar (a former Giant), chimed in, too.
Check out the reactions of what some called “the check swing heard round the world.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
Cardinals acquire Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz from Eagles – Sportsnet.ca
The undefeated Arizona Cardinals have added another weapon to their arsenal.
The Cardinals, who are the only 5-0 team in the NFL, acquired three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz from the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday for cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick.
Ertz played with the Eagles since they selected him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He set an NFL record for most receptions by a tight end in a single season with 116 catches and also had a career-high 1,163 yards during the 2018 season. Ertz, who was selected to the Pro Bowl three consecutive years from 2017-19, caught the game-winning touchdown during Super Bowl LII to help the Eagles defeat the New England Patriots 41-33 and capture their first Super Bowl.
“Zach Ertz built a special legacy in Philadelphia,” Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. “Talented, tough, and passionate, he helped to establish our team’s culture and played a vital role in our success over the years.
“Zach created so many memories that will live on forever, from setting numerous franchise and league records, to reaching across the end zone for the game-winning touchdown in our first-ever Super Bowl championship. He will always be a member of the Eagles family, not only because of what he accomplished on the field, but also because of the wonderful person, dedicated leader, and exemplary role model that he was for nine seasons in Philadelphia. We wish Zach and Julie nothing but the best.”
The 30-year-old Ertz has 18 receptions for 189 yards and two touchdowns in six games this season. Philadelphia lost 28-22 Thursday night to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Ertz hauling in a touchdown catch.
The Cardinals play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
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